Are good policing, violence interrupters enough to curb violence as homicides in Durham spike?

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — So far this year, 32 people have been shot and killed in Durham, according to the latest data from police.

Deadly shootings are up 32 percent from the 22 people who had been shot up until this point last year. If the trend continues, some are concerned the city could outpace 2016, when Durham had 42 murders, which was the deadliest year on record.

Three people were shot and killed in Durham in just the past four days. Two of those individuals, Tavis Rhodes and Shamori Brown, were killed in a parking lot on Saturday night on Lawson Street on the campus of North Carolina Central University.

Just two days later, a man was shot and killed in a home on Dupree Street, right next to NCCU’s campus.

So far this year, there have been a total of 198 people shot and there have been a total of 579 shooting incidents.

One of the shooting incidents that left two men seriously injured recently happened at Franklin Village, a community in East Durham where activist Sheryl Smith lives.

“I’ve been here all my life and we’ve never ever had it this bad,” Smith said.

Smith lost her son to gun violence in 2005. She said that her community needs more police and more community centers, but she argues a majority of the city council won’t listen to what communities in East Durham are asking for.

“They continue to say we need to work together, but we can’t work with elected officials if they’re not willing to work with everyone,” Smith said.

CBS 17 reached out to all the Durham city councilors on Tuesday.

“It’s not that we need to do anything different. We just need to do more,” Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton said.

He had pushed in the past for ShotSpotter, a gun detection technology that automatically sends police to the scene where gunfire is detected.

But a majority of the council was not in favor of it. Some feared it would lead to over policing.

Durham City Council did approve spending almost $1 million to expand Durham County’s Bull City United violence interrupter program and add 18 more individuals who are familiar with crime-ridden neighborhoods who can work to prevent violence.

But county officials said Tuesday they have only filled five of those 18 positions, as two had recently quit.
Until more violence interrupters are hired, they can only work in four areas of the city which include McDougald Terrace, Cornwallis Road, Oxford Manor, and a neighborhood just south of downtown.

County officials said if they bring on more violence interrupters, they can focus on the area just east of downtown, which includes Edgemont Elms and Franklin Village.

CBS 17 asked Middleton what immediate solutions the city council is working on to address the problem with gun violence.

“You keep asking me that. There’s no other answer,” Middleton said. “Gunfire goes off, police show up.”

CBS 17 asked Middleton how the Durham City Council can do more to address the problem.

“You need four votes. It’s as simple as that. You need four votes to make anything happen,” Middleton said. “I know all of my colleagues are concerned about this issue and concerned about gun violence in our city, and part of making policy is working through our disagreements.”

City Councilor Javiera Caballero agreed to speak with CBS 17 on Wednesday. City Councilor Pierce Freelon said he was unavailable to do an interview on Tuesday.

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